In Review: Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Year Two #5

Listen to the Doctor, "Buy this comic immediately! My life depends on it!"

The covers: Four covers to chase down and each is a winner! The A cover is by Simon Myers and it’s a sensational image of the Doctor lowering a pair of sunglasses that he’s picked out, as evidenced by the massive display of shades behind him. The Doctor looks great, but look closely at how clever Myers is: one can see the reflection of Clara in the lenses! Brilliant! The B cover is Photo Incentive frontpiece by Will Brooks. I’m mad for all the covers that Brooks is doing for the Who comics and this was the one I had to purchase. It’s got a terrific shot of Jenna Coleman as Clara. She’s surrounded by four blue globes containing images of Doctors ten through twelve, including the War Doctor. To her left are three iterations of herself through her adventures. All the characters are sitting atop a wonderful red cosmic miasma. I couldn’t pass this up! The C Incentive cover is also by Simon Myers and it’s the flip version of the A cover. This has Clara pulling down some dark shades in a glasses shop and within her lenses is the reflection of the Doctor. Simply wonderful! The final cover, the D, is by interior artist Rachael Stott and it’s a smashing illustration of the Doctor with his hand out to the reader. What makes this a really slick image is that his black suit and the background have erased and substituted with a stark red, making this very much the eye catcher. Overall grades: A A, B A+, C A, and D A 

The story: The Doctor directly addresses the reader on the first page of this stand alone adventure. He warns the reader not to turn the page. What greater enticement could there be for a reader to do so, and instantly comes upon a grotesque swirling fleshy creature reaching for the reader. If this was a 3-D comic book it would keep children from reading comics forever. The third page shows whom this creature is reaching for: a young girl named Natalie reading a comic in bed. Her mother hears the noise from downstairs and goes up to see what all the ruckus is about. She finds the room empty, but a mess. Comics litter the floor. After some disparaging commentary on Natalie’s reading habits she walks out. “Natalie, am I speaking to myself here? Where are you?” One of the books she tossed on the bed falls open, revealing a page with her daughter struggling to escape a panel. “Mum! Help, mum! I’m in here! I’m in the comic!” Robbie Morrison’s “The Fourth Wall” then moves to London, one hour ago. The Doctor and Clara have landed “bang in the middle of London in broad daylight” because the Time Lord has become aware of inexplicable disappearances and mysterious energy fluctuations. His sonic screwdriver tells him that the emanations are coming from a store, Prohibited Sphere Megastore. Clara is pleased with their entering the comics shop since “I need something to keep me awake when you’re prattling on about timey-wimey stuff.” After some fun commentary on comics and the Doctor never regenerating into a woman, he spies a section devoted to Time Surgeon, a tall, gray haired, jacketed man wearing an enormous clock around his neck like Flavor Flav. He skims the pages of one book, expressing outrage at it the hack science. Clara laughs at the Doctor’s anger and discovers him missing when she turns back to him, finding only the comic book on the floor. This is an exceedingly clever comic that brings back an alien race from one of the television episodes. Morrison keeps things creepy and cool as Clara has to get herself and others out of danger, while the Doctor tries to tell her what to do. Using comic books as weapons is a stroke of genius that will delight comic fans, put a deviant tweak into youngsters as they read this, and Who fans will thrill to the villains. Their book has several fantastic fun lines, such as on Pages 11, 12, 16, and 22. This is a terrific comic. Overall grade: A+ 

The art: Rachael Stott is one of the best artists working today. Her ability to illustrate characters that resemble their actor counterparts is shockingly accurate. Case in point, the first page. It consists of six equal sized panels of the Doctor speaking to the reader. If one were to ignore the text (though I wouldn’t) and only focus on the art, a reader could easily discern the emotional range of the title character: the first panel has him scanning the reader, the second has him casually putting his device away, the third has him knocking on the panel’s wall, the fourth has him looking annoyed, with the fifth he comes closer to the reader with an accusatory finger, and in the final panel his face consumes almost all the space as he rages at the reader. This is a terrific example of Stott’s capabilities to render emotions and capture a likeness. The second page is a startling splash of the issue’s monster. Simply put, it’s spectacular. The swirling tatters of flesh at the top of Page 3 are fantastic, as are the details in Natalie’s room. The third panel is a terrific image of her mom entering her room, shown from above, looking down to see the clutter on the floor. When the Doctor and Clara enter Forbidden Planet Prohibited Sphere Megastore Stott must have gone mad with all the perspectives and books she had to illustrate. Page 9 is a fantastically grotesque effect inflicted on a character as he’s shown to enter a comic book — it’s like an H.P. Lovecraft nightmare come to life. 11 is a clever and funny layout with a terrific punchline. The two panels featuring the Doctor on Page 15 are hilarious, given what he’s doing with his hands; I especially like his left hand shooing Clara to go on her way. 20 is a gorgeous full paged splash as the Doctor makes a dramatic declaration. This is superior work, plain and simple. The final panel is both fun and menacing. If Stott draws a book, it should be bought. Overall grade: A+

The colors: It’s easy to see that Marcio Menys is going to be an excellent colorist on this book from the first page: the background on the Doctor is an excellent olive that makes the character pop. And look at the blending on the Doctor’s skin — it’s the coloring that gives his judgmental finger a three dimensional effect. The colors used on Page 2 truly make Stott’s creation look disgusting. The shift in colors from outside the comics shop to its interior is a terrific way to show the change in locations. Page 11 uses colors terrifically to show how the Doctor and Natalie are in different books, and the bottom three panels slickly show how they’re blended. 19 is another dynamite page, with the characters standing out superbly against a dimensional nexus, and the Doctor’s pants are impossible not to look at with their checkerboard pattern. Menys is doing super work. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt (whose work can also be found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) are responsible for creating dialogue, sounds, sounds, screams, and scene settings. I like that in the dialogue characters have some of their words italicized to show the emphasis in their speech. When the characters are really stressed, such as the Doctor on Page 8, the size of their text increases along with it being italicized. The sounds are terrific, with the monster sounds being particularly twisted. Winning in every way. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Listen to the Doctor, “Buy this comic immediately! My life depends on it!” A smart, funny romp through the world of comic books. Absolutely recommended. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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